There are lots of ways to entertain yourself while you’re working out. You can listen to a great playlist, catch up on your favorite television shows, or simply clear your own mind. Each distraction has its pros and cons. Here is a breakdown of the most popular workout distractions and their benefits and drawbacks.
When it comes to exercise distractions, music is king. In fact, it can actually enhance your athletic performance. Studies show that it can increase your speed, power, and the length of your workout. It can also make you feel better when you’re pushing through a tough workout. The slight distraction of music can make the workout more enjoyable, which could be part of the reason why people who listen to music tend to exercise longer. However, it’s crucial to listen to upbeat music with a fast tempo to help you set your pace. If you’re running or exercising outside, be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Keep the volume low enough so you can hear what’s going on around you.
After a long day at work, all you want is to plop on the couch and catch up on your favorite TV show, not hit the gym for a workout. Many people try to kill two birds with one stone by watching TV or Netflix while they exercise. However, TV isn’t the best thing to have on if you want to get a serious work out in. When you’re looking to focus and push yourself, TV can be an unwelcome distraction. According to Outside Magazine, your focus splits when you turn on the tube, taking some of your attention away from your workout. If you simply must watch your favorite show, you can still take advantage of the time. Do a TV workout during the show, or at least do some exercises during the commercial breaks. Stick to lighthearted shows rather than complicated dramas or news programs, which can require more mental focus.
Many can’t fathom a workout without some sort of distraction—music, television, or a workout partner. Still, some people like using exercise to clear their heads and get focused and prefer not to have a distraction. Certain workouts, like weight lifting or rock climbing, demand a lot of attention to form. Being distracted while doing these activities can be dangerous and leave you injured. Others deliberately draw on the silence, like some types of yoga, where the point is to focus on the breath. While this is a great strategy for some people, it’s perfectly okay to need a little extra distraction to keep you motivated.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you what you want to listen to (or not) when you exercise. If having the television on in the background when you’re working out helps keep you motivated, go for it. If you prefer complete and utter silence to help you focus and clear your head, go ahead and shut your iPod off.